Wicked Sexy Liar: A Not-Joe Not-So-Short Short: Chapter I


Not-Joe

MAN, I DON’T even know where to look.

I can’t stare right at her eyes, because they’re intense—I mean, intense: all swirling blue-green and intimidating . . . But I can’t look at her mouth, either, because I’m a sucker for a good pair of lips, and this pair looks like it could deliver an insult as easily as a kiss. I sure as hell can’t look lower, because she’s fine, and poured into some little black outfit like she’s stopping by the store first and robbing a bank after.

And in this very instant I realize with certainty that if it came down to making the hard decision about law versus love, I could date a bank robber.

“So Oliver’s not here?” she asks slowly, and I nod, registering I haven’t said anything else since she asked to see him and I mumbled, “He’s not . . .” and she stared blankly at me while I lost my mind over her mouth and criminal hotness.

She ducks a little, meeting my eyes, and something flips like a fish in my stomach. “Do you expect him back soon?”

Her French accent is so thick, I feel guilty making her speak English. So, on a whim, I offer the only bone I can, saying a dubious “Sprechen sie Deutsch?”

To my amazement, her eyes light up.

“Ja!” she says, adding in German, “This is so much easier. I feel like I am tripping over my words in English.”

“Because you are,” I agree in German.

“Thanks.” She gives me a wry, flirty smile, and I realize I’m staring at her mouth again.

I thump my chest, coughing to clear my foggy brain. “So. Oliver should be back later today. Do you want to hang out here and read some stuff? I could recommend something.”

Please say yes.

Please say yes.

She looks with mild disgust around the store and then shakes her head.

And yeah, I get that reaction. The first time I walked into a comic shop, it smelled like dust and old paper, and even though Oliver’s store is as clean and organized as they come, it still gives off that overwhelming sense of color and shape and chaos. But that sense is also what made me immediately fall in love with comics. They made me feel like my eyes were moving too fast for my brain. It felt a little like being that tiny kid who decides he wants to run and just takes off, constantly on the edge of falling face-first into the sidewalk.

But kids learn how to run. For me, the feeling of awe never goes away. And I fucking love it. I love feeling like I’m tripping face-first every time I read a comic. The day things get boring is the day I die.

“No, it’s fine,” she says, eyes glued to the huge display of Lola’s graphic novel, Razor Fish. After a moment she continues, absently, “I was going to be picked up at the airport by a friend, but she couldn’t at the last minute, so I took a taxi here instead. I’ll go outside and call his cell.” She gives me a tiny smile and admits, “He doesn’t know I’m here.”

I nod like an idiot again, waving, and when she turns and leaves the store, I get that weird, bewildering sense of being yanked up by my roots. Like something big just happened but I have no idea what it is.


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